Dont ever hire! a web designer (unless your building a web design company). Hire developers/programmers/database/security. Web designs are a dime a dozen you can buy great templates, portals, etc...what you need is the code behind the design driving traffic/revenue and userability and great developers do this. Freelance/IC the web design!- contractually make sure you own the web design code (graphics, pics, buttons, layouts, templates etc...)
Start with asking what they have learned about your business. I wouldn't hire anyone who hadn't taken the time t learn something that isn't obvious about my company. You need more than a pretty picture, most graphic designers can do that,, you want to easily be able to manage the site and it's contents. Ask to see the controls of another site, so you can test drive before you buy! Be leery of putting every bell and whistle on your website. A blog is great, if you are going to keep it up. Make sure the designer is willing to stay with it until it is just right. Symmetry and the WOW factor do matter, but it is most important that the website is informative and relevant..
Check out their website! Just kidding- kind of- you would think they will have their best foot forward on their site.
Don't go for the biggest name- see who gets back to you quickly and really seems to want to know about your business. Especially important if you have a unique business solution- you do not want a cookie cutter approach.
It's a good practice to place a contest on a site like 99designs.com or freelancer.com and to pick up a designer to work with, based on their performance in the contest. I hope this helps :)
Hi Rob, The comments below are good where design alone is your concern. keep in mind the web site has become the business central engine for most companies and knowing your customers, shaping a compelling value proposition and developing your brand should precede the design so form follows function, versus just making you look good.
Word Press has done a good job to lower the cost of design. I prefer original solutions but find ample opportunity to do that with some templates and them modify.
The thing most overlook is after the site is designed and built, how do I now manage it, integrate it with my billing, leads generation, sales, channels, marketing, ecommerce and SEO. When i started seeing limited solutions exceeding $1200 a month and several together exceeding 2-3X that, I was concerned my smaller clients could not afford to play.
Fortunately I discovered an all in one web development and management process that fully loaded does not exceed $250 a month and most start at half that. sure you also need content and some of these tools, albeit far less, still need management time. But their beauty is a new level of usability that you can do internally or have an outsourced firm do,
I just converted three clients to it and will redo my own site in December to reflect this higher degree of effectiveness. Give me a shout and I can let you see it.
Rob that is a good question. I have worked with people after they have worked with a "bad" web designer and have found that sometimes the designers were just bad at managing expectations. Your web site is only going to be as good as your plan. Know in advance that if you are putting the plan together it will be cheaper than if your website designer does the planning. If you hire an agency look for them to suggest long term strategies,you want someone who plans on being around for a while. Also their portfolio can tell you if it is a good fit. Designers have a tendency to have a "style". If their "style" does not do it for you then move on. Your question prompted me to repost a blog I wrote two years ago about what to do before you build your site. it might answer some other questions you have. If you would like you can check it out here. http://www.ijustwantasite.com/before-you-build-a-website/
I hope this was helpful.
There are many things to consider when designing a website. Besides the more obvious ones... such as: eye appeal, easy to navigate, priced within your budget, relevant content... you should consider what you want the site to do, how will it get found, who your target market is.
If you want it to bring in leads, you need the right marketing principles incorporated into it. If you want to use SEO to get it found online, it must have on-site SEO built into it. If you have a large amount of mobile device users in your target market, it needs to be mobile friendly... and keep in mind that there is a big difference between being accessible by mobile and being mobile friendly.
It's important that a designer understands both the design and marketing side of building a website.
It is good to talk with a few designers, find out what you get for your money, exchange ideas, get questions answered and see how well they understand your needs and see who you feel comfortable with.
A good web designer will guide you as to the best practices in web design and make sure your site adheres to the best practices. Of course you want to see the work the designer has done. . The clearer you are on identifying your needs for the site and your timeline, the better the end result will be. Definitely get a detailed quote first, so there aren't any surprises. Ask for a wire frame (mock up of your site) before the designer actually starts the coding work, to make sure you are in sync with your designer. If you want to maintain the site yourself after it is developed, ask for the training to be included in the quote. Good luck with your selection. If you need some contacts in this area, I would be happy to forward to you.
Look at what he/she has designed to insure it is the stuff you need.
Make sure his/her questions demonstrate a knowledge of your kind of business.
Appeal (of Work)
Ease of Information Exchange
Good Working Relationship
Return On Investment
Understanding of Your Requirement
It's a given that a good web firm should have a portfolio and a valid website of their own, and of course price is always a huge point. So first and foremost, you should know where they're located and how to get in touch - and not just an email address. Having a valid location and an actual person you can speak to - as well as being active online - indicates not only legitimacy but accountability. You know they are concerned about their reputation and will provide the best customer service possible. Testimonials are also important when considering what the experience of working with them will be like. If these factors are satisfactory, then the most important element is dynamics - can you work with them? Do you LIKE them? If you aren't sure but think their price is good, that's not enough to say yes.